Korean university students are denied quality education services even though they are paying exorbitantly high tuition fees, according to an OECD survey that ranks the country last among member countries in terms of college education environment.
Korean universities have 32.7 students per professor on average, more than double the OECD average of 15.8. The number is 16.9 in the U.K., 16.2 in France, 15 in the U.S., 14.4 in Mexico, 11.5 in Germany, 10.4 in Japan, and 8.5 in Sweden.
They are also outranked by their foreign counterparts in terms of the number of library books per student, an indicator reflecting support for education and research.
According to analysis of university library statistics by the Korea Education and Research Information Service, the average number of library books per student at top universities in the country stands at 70, fewer than the 71 at the lowest-ranking among 113 American universities surveyed.
Seoul National University, the highest-ranked in Korea, has a budget of W250,000 (US$1=W1,082) for materials for each student, which is also less than the lowest-ranking American university's W270,000.
Private Korean universities have 4.8 students per library seat, and national and public schools 6.9, showing how difficult it is for students to use their libraries as much as they need.
A KERIS official said, "Four-year universities are required to build libraries that can accommodate more than 30 percent of enrolled students, but the reality is that most of them have met only 62 percent of the requirement."
Korean universities invest a relatively small sum in students, compared with the tuition fees students pay. They spend US$8,920 on each student, far less than the OECD average of $12,907. Indeed, Korean universities spend less than half the money of universities in the U.S. ($27,010) and Sweden ($18,361), and little more than half of those in Australia ($14,726), and Japan ($14,201).
In a survey of 1,019 college-educated office workers by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry five years ago, three out of 10 respondents said their college education was little use in their office work. A mere one out of 10 respondents said college education reflects the needs of businesses.